Terrorist by John Updike

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Synopsis

The terrorist of John Updike’s title is eighteen-year-old Ahmad Ashmawy Mulloy, the son of an Irish American mother and an Egyptian father who disappeared when he was three. Devoted to Allah and to the Qur’an as expounded by the imam of his neighborhood mosque, Ahmad feels his faith threatened by the materialistic, hedonistic society he sees around him in the slumping New Jersey factory town of New Prospect. Neither Jack Levy, his life-weary guidance counselor at Central High, nor Joryleen Grant, his seductive black classmate, succeeds in diverting Ahmad from what the Qur’an calls the Straight Path. Now driving a truck for a local Lebanese furniture store—a job arranged through his imam—Ahmad thinks he has discovered God’s purpose for him. But to quote the Qur’an: Of those who plot, God is the best.
 

About John Updike

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John Updike was born in Shillington, Pennsylvania, in 1932. He graduated from Harvard College in 1954 and spent a year in Oxford, England, at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the staff of The New Yorker. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and the William Dean Howells Medal. In 2007 he received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. John Updike died in January 2009.
 
Published May 29, 2007 by Random House. 322 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Business & Economics, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Terrorist

Kirkus Reviews

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Up until the “mission” for which fast-talking, seemingly Americanized Charlie Chehab has prepared Ahmad is undertaken, Updike does what he does (a) best: paints a densely detailed picture of complacent, overindulgent, morally befuddled urban America—while simultaneously demonstrating persuasive m...

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The New York Times

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Ahmad's mother will begin an affair with his high school guidance counselor, who happens to be married to a woman whose sister works for the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, who is worried about a terrorist plot being hatched in the very New Jersey town where Ahmad happens to live.

Jun 06 2006 | Read Full Review of Terrorist

The New York Times

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An assembly of religiously driven immigrants stands in judgment of the morally exhausted America in which Updike's new novel unfolds.

Jun 18 2006 | Read Full Review of Terrorist

The Guardian

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When the lap dancer watches an African mother cradling her fractious child on a train, I braced for a detour into sentimentality, like that which enfeebles John Updike's recent, calamitous novel Terrorist.

Apr 07 2007 | Read Full Review of Terrorist

The Guardian

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Remarkably, for much of what is the most thriller-like of Updike's books, none of this seems forced, not the fact that Jack's sister-in-law works for the Secretary of State for Homeland Security, not the staged dialogues about faith and America between Jack and Ahmad, or those about faith and sex...

Jul 23 2006 | Read Full Review of Terrorist

The Guardian

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Yet there are significant correspondences between the views of the world-weary Jew and those of his idealistic Muslim student: Levy's vision of social disintegration under a barrage of "merciless advertisements geared to a preposterous popular culture of eternal music and beer and impossibly thin...

Aug 05 2006 | Read Full Review of Terrorist

BC Books

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Continued on the next page Page 1 — Page 2 — Page 3

Aug 10 2006 | Read Full Review of Terrorist

BC Books

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Levy sees potential in Ahmad and breaks out of his generally stuporous approach to his job and life to nudge Ahmad toward college.

Aug 10 2006 | Read Full Review of Terrorist

NPR

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John Updike's best-selling thriller Terrorist is an unsettling depiction of a pious Muslim teenager from New Jersey who is led step by step into a terrorist plot.

Aug 14 2007 | Read Full Review of Terrorist

Los Angeles Times

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THOUGH he has published six books since 2000, John Updike, it seems, really wants our attention.

Jun 05 2006 | Read Full Review of Terrorist

AV Club

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John Updike once savaged Tom Wolfe for writing glib, pandering "entertainment," but stretches of Updike's new novel Terrorist read like his version of Wolfe's what's-the-matter-with-kids-today bestseller I Am Charlotte Simmons.

Jul 05 2006 | Read Full Review of Terrorist

The Daily Beast

The article’s author claimed that of the approximately 30 novels published to that point, “none has seized the public imagination.” Last spring, an editor for The Times Book Review .

Sep 10 2009 | Read Full Review of Terrorist

Deseret News

It seems a major shift from his series of "Rabbit" books about Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom, who looks back on his athletic high school days in depression because his adult life is never so exciting.

Jun 04 2006 | Read Full Review of Terrorist

About.com Bestsellers

It is slow at points and requires concentration to read.ProsJohn Updike employs rich, descriptive writingTerrorist provides insight into what Islamic fundamentalists may thinkUpdike's characters are full and complexTerrorist will force you to grapple with big questionsConsTerrorist is slow and de...

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London Review of Books

In many ways – addicted to consuming, living in fear of terrorism, but incapable of doing anything about either of them, even when her sister, who works for the secretary of Homeland Security in Washington, rings up in order to talk to Jack about Ahmad (more coincidences, more signs of realism gi...

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Bookmarks Magazine

Andrew Furman New York Times 1.5 of 5 Stars "The would-be terrorist in this novel turns out to be a completely unbelievable individual: more robot than human being and such a cliché that the reader cannot help suspecting that Mr. Updike found the idea of such a person so incomprehensible tha...

Aug 21 2007 | Read Full Review of Terrorist

Spirituality & Practice

Reviews Philosophy About Our Affiliates Books & Audios Recently Reviewed The spiritual practice of empathy is desperately needed in our world where terrorism and the responses to it have brought large doses of fear and violence into daily life.

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New York Magazine

And who else among his godless peers but Updike would read the Koran so attentively, listen to the voice of God in “His magnificent third-person plural,” hear tell of the words of the Prophet invading human softness like a sword, ride with desert winds and robed warriors under cloudless skies tow...

May 28 2006 | Read Full Review of Terrorist

Bookslut

As Ahmad grows into the young manhood of working life, 63-year-old Jack -- revolted by his obese, soap opera- and cookie-obsessed librarian wife, Beth -- revisits his younger manhood in a meandering affair with Terry.

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The Austinist

Not only that, but Ahmad takes his religious beliefs to an extreme level and seems to automatically soak up his proposed role as a terrorist without so much as a lingering doubt, let alone any kind of deep soul searching.

Jun 29 2006 | Read Full Review of Terrorist

Reader Rating for Terrorist
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